Ayurveda is the flawless ancient science of life; the word ‘Ayur’ literally means ‘life’ and ‘veda’, the ‘science’ or ‘knowledge’. Ayurveda elucidates the do’s and don’ts one has to follow, which favours the well-being of each individual to lead a healthy, happy, comfortable and advantageous life physically, mentally and socially. Ayurveda also emphasis the adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’.
There are four Vedas or treatises that form the basis of the Indian medical philosophy. These are the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Adharva Veda. Ayurveda emerged as a branch of Adharva Veda; it dates back to over five thousand years. It is said to have originated from Lord Brahma (Creator of the Universe, according to Indian mythology) and descended to the earth through various generations of gods and saints. This has been handed down to us by means of ancient venerable scripts as palm leaf books, leather leaves, etc. The oldest works in Ayurveda still available are the Charaka Samhita, Susrutha Samhita and Ashtanga Samgraha.
The sage-physician-surgeons of the time were the same sages or seers, deeply devoted holy people, who saw health as an integral part of spiritual life. It is said that they received their training of Ayurveda through direct cognition during meditation. In other words, the knowledge of the use of various methods of healing, prevention, longevity and surgery came through Divine revelation; there was no guessing or testing and harming animals. These revelations were transcribed from the oral tradition into book form, interspersed with the other aspects of life and spirituality. What is fascinating is Ayurveda’s use of herbs, foods, aromas, gems, colors, yoga, mantras, lifestyle and surgery. Consequently Ayurveda grew into a respected and widely used system of healing in India. Around 1500 B.C., Ayurveda was delineated into eight specific branches of medicine. There were two main schools of Ayurveda at that time. Atreya- the school of physicians, and Dhanvantari – the school of surgeons. These two schools made Ayurveda a more scientifically verifiable and classifiable medical system.
People from numerous countries came to Indian Ayurvedic schools to learn about this world medicine and the religious scriptures it sprang from. Learned men from China, Tibet, the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Afghanistanis, Persians, and more traveled to learn the complete wisdom and bring it back to their own countries. Ayurvedic texts were translated in Arabic and under physicians such as Avicenna and Razi Sempion, both of whom quoted Indian Ayurvedic texts, established Islamic medicine. This style became popular in Europe, and helped to form the foundation of the European tradition in medicine.
In 16th Century Europe, Paracelsus, who is known as the father of modem Western medicine, practiced and propagated a system of medicine which borrowed heavily from Ayurveda.
There are two main re-organizers of Ayurveda whose works are still existing in tact today – Charak and Sushrut. The third major treatise is called the Ashtanga Hridaya, which is a concise version of the works of Charak and Sushrut. Thus the three main Ayurvedic texts that are still used today are the Charak Samhita (compilation of the oldest book Atreya Samhita), Sushrut Samhita and the Ashtangha Hridaya Samhita. These books are believed to be over 1,200 years old. It is because these texts still contain the original and complete knowledge of this Ayurvedic world medicine, that Ayurveda is known today as the only complete medical system still in existence. Other forms of medicine from various cultures, although parallel are missing parts of the original information